Welcome back to Sixth Man Madness! It’s the most ill-conceived fake tournament since Most Improved Player Madness, which ended with me declaring that we’d never do this again and then doing it again two years later. Time heals all wounds!
This week, we’re taking you through the second round and into our Sweet 16. Like any tournament, this event isn’t just about who the best candidate is, it’s about who’s playing best at the right time. As Nike’s NCAA Tournament warm-up shirts proclaim, you’ve got to “Bring Your Game.” And your wallet. There’s no way they’re not selling those t-shirts for like $60 each.
On to the bracket:
ROY TARPLEY REGION
RESULT: Barton’s been balling lately, going off for 23 and 25 in back-to-back games last week against Dallas and Memphis. After a promising finish to February (19, 17, 22 points in final three games), Gordon has been up-and-down this month. Typical 9-seed. Barton’s consistency advances him to our Sweet Sixth Man 16 Rankings. Sixth Man.
4. Nikola Mirotic vs. 5. Dennis Schroder
RESULT: Mirotic is like Ricky Bobby right now—he’s ON FIRE!! Help him, Tom Thibodeau! Help him, Oprah Winfrey! (Sorry). He scored 28 in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Thursday and went for 35 on March 23. He cruises past Schroder. Too bad for Mirotic, his Bulls are playing themselves out of the NBA’s tournament.
14. Terrence Ross vs. 6. Andre Iguodala
RESULT: Iguodala’s been hurt lately, missing the last 12 games with an ankle injury. The Warriors have struggled without him, going just 10-2. Seriously though, they’ve missed him off the bench, and you have to wonder whether or not he would have made a difference in losses to the Spurs and Celtics. Ross has been banged up too, but Iguodala’s candidacy might actually be improved by his absence. It’s like the Steve Nash MVP deal. Iggy moves on.
2. Zach LaVine vs. 10. Devin Booker
RESULT: Booker, who looks like he just graduated the eighth grade, has been balling like a grown man, notching 28, 26, 21, 30, and 18 in five straight games in March. He’s also shot up to No. 2 in our Rookie Rankings. Kristaps who? Booker moves on.
DETLEF SCHREMPF REGION
1. Jamal Crawford vs. 9. Trey Burke
RESULT: Crawford’s been balling like a Sixth Man OG, putting up 32 points in 40 minutes in a 119-117 defeat at OKC on Thursday. Burke, on the other hand, has played sparingly this month and is in no way a candidate for this award. Crawford advances.
RESULT: You can tell that the Cavs’ coaching change has had an impact on Thompson, as he put up 16 and 10 in LeBron’s debut against the Rockets. If LeBron keeps following him on Twitter and watches all of his Snapchat stories, it might give Thompson the confidence to keep his roll going. Tristan un-friends Manu and moves on to the Sweet 6th Man 16.
11. Gerald Green vs. 3. Ryan Anderson
RESULT: Green went off for 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting against the stout Kings defense (which gives up just 109 points per game, and lets opponents shoot 46%). Anderson, meanwhile, has been on the shelf since March 18, and in this tournament, YOU’VE GOT TO BRING IT EVERY NIGHT. ALL CAPS. Green moves on.
2. Enes Kanter vs. 7. Allen Crabbe
RESULT: Kanter is a beast, and he’s been a near double-double machine this past month, averaging 14 points and 9.4 boards per game. OKC’s also won 9 of 10, including beating the Spurs, Raptors and Clippers. Kanter moves on.
ALSO FROM KELS DAYTON: MOST IMPROVED RANKINGS
Kels Dayton is a freelance writer whose work has also appeared in SLAM Magazine. You can check out more of his work at RoundballDaily.com and SportzEdge.com. Follow him on Twitter @KelsDayton.